Tag Archives: white wine

cucumber + melon + white grape sangria

Doesn’t summer seem to be just flying by? Even though fall is soon approaching, I am not giving up this season without a fight. Right about now is when farmers’ markets and gardens start to really pump out the produce, so I am trying my best to capitalize on the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables. At the moment, most of the tomatoes in my garden are plump and green, but give them a few more hot, toasty days, and I will be making and canning tomato sauce on a weekly basis.

I have definitely been enjoying my fair share of rosé and white wine this summer, but sometimes I simply want to sip on something different. Enter the classic, refreshing wine cocktail, sangria. Most traditional sangria recipes call for wine, an additional spirit or two, maybe a little citrus juice, and a bunch of fresh fruit tossed in for a colorful infusion. Ever since I got my new slow juicer, however, I have been experimenting with incorporating fresh juices in almost everything – even in my sangria. This particular sangria recipe is a unique, herbaceous, mash-up of cucumber, white grapes, and melon. It’s just about as garden-to-glass as it gets!

I love sangria, but so many times, the fruit gets mushy, as it infuses. I don’t even end up eating it because of the texture. By juicing the fruit in sangria, you get the freshest flavor without the unwanted consistency. I use a Hurom HG Elite Slow Juicer. It’s one of those kitchen splurges that you won’t regret. What makes it so special? It is a heavy-duty, slow-masticating juicer that cold-presses every last drop of juice from foods, preserving the inherent nutritional integrity. And we all need a little healthy kick, once we add in the wine and booze, right!? I still add freshly cut fruit, but I toss it into the sangria, only when I am ready to serve it.

Wine is the base of sangria, so choose a wine that you wouldn’t mind sipping on by itself. You can make sangria with either red or white wine as a base. This particular recipe calls for a white wine base, and I chose Pinot Grigio, since its citrus and tropical notes pair well with the fresh cucumber and honeydew. Select a dry, un-oaked, style of white wine, with crisp acidity, like a Pinot Grigio, Albariño, or something different, like Vinho Verde.

I am also pretty choosy about the spirits that I use for my cocktails. There are plenty of flavored vodkas out there on the market, but there are only a few that I consider an option. Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka is, most importantly, an organic option. It is made “with respect from seed to glass”, and the care and intention behind this product is evident – crisp, summer cucumber with a clean, light finish. This was a perfect addition to this sangria.


cucumber + melon + white grape sangria


  • 1 bottle of Pinot Grigio
  • 4 ounces Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka
  • 2 ounces St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 6 ounces white grape juice {about a half-pound of grapes}
  • 6 ounces honeydew or Galia melon juice {a little less than half a melon}
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • soda water
  • cucumber + mint ice cubes {see recipe below}
  • mint leaves, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices for garnish

Give yourself a day ahead to make and freeze your fruit cubes. You can juice the fruits and vegetables in advance, as well. That way, the juice has time to chill in the fridge.

  1. Juice the melon, cucumber, and lemon, following your juicer’s manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Combine the juices and add the Pinot Grigio, cucumber vodka, and elderflower liqueur, mixing well.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Pour into glasses, garnished with cucumber + mint ice cubes.
  5. Top with a splash of soda water and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices.
  6. Sit on your back porch, patio, or park and enjoy!

cubes


cucumber + mint ice cubes


  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 8 ounces filtered water
  1. Juice the cucumber and the mint leaves, skimming any foam off the top of the juiced mixture. This yields about 8 ounces.
  2. Combine 8 ounces filtered water with the cucumber and mint juice.
  3. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid.
  4. Add the cucumber + mint cubes to your sangria {these cubes are pretty intense, so toss in a couple per glass, and fill the rest of the glass with some plain ice cubes}. The cucumber flavor will slowly infuse the sangria, as the cubes melt.

This recipe yields one ice cube tray’s worth of liquid, so plan accordingly.

What if you don’t own a juicer? Don’t fret. You can still create a fresh juice sangria, using a blender. I used my Vitamix for years before owning a juicer and simply strained my blended fruits and veggies through a chinois or sieve for clarity. Williams-Sonoma has a wide spectrum of styles to choose from – cold-press juicers like mine and whole food juicers, along with the high-speed variety.

Cheers to stretching out these last days of summer! I refuse to even think about pumpkins, ghosts, or turkeys, even though the decorations are already up in the stores. I must admit that I did cave and buy a pumpkin candle at Pier One the other afternoon. I couldn’t resist. I’ll just save it for later. And let me know if you have a great recipe for sangria, or if you decide to make this particular green version!

XO and happy summering!

sip, read, repeat | loimer grüner + the drunken botanist

Those who live in, say, North Dakota, may scoff when I say that I am beginning to understand their frustration with snow and cold.  Another “wintry” spring day here in Colorado, preceded by a few 80-degree, sunny days, has my mood stability mimicking this late spring’s indecisive highs and lows.  Put away the boots, paint the toes, shave the legs (yes, at my best, it is a weekly treat, over the winter!), and start sifting through the seed catalogs.  Ahhhh…not so fast.  Better keep those boots and scarves handy because the next day might greet you with a soggy, bitter snowstorm…

snowy tulips

Snow-covered red tulips, most likely enjoying their last day in my backyard. Enjoy the beauty, while you can!

I guess I set myself up for a leisurely afternoon from the get-go.  I caught up with a great friend earlier this morning, and we exchanged plans for our gardens, discussed kitchen remodeling dilemmas, and enjoyed a light, spring salad, accompanied by some Pinot Grigio.  Yes, it is Wednesday, but it is my day off.  Sometimes, I have to throw in the justification, since I do work “off-peak” hours and days.  I did have to drop by work to pick up some material, so I grabbed some coffee on the way just to wake myself up a little.

Upon entering the restaurant, the two other sommeliers greeted me with a short glass of crisp, white Naschetta.  I had some impeccable timing stumbling in on their tasting session!  The three of us are trying to flesh out our “old world” whites section on the wine list, and this particular Italian gem is a prime candidate.  I grabbed my needed items, selected a bottle of Gruner Veltliner for the evening, and got away, before I was sucked in to help out.  Today is a delivery day, and the boxes of wine were piling up.  Thanks for the sip, guys, but, goodbye!

gruner goodness

One of my favorite white wine varietals, Gruner Veltliner, a food-friendly, crisp white wine that often exhibits notes of citrus, peach, spicy pepper, and sometimes tobacco. Not very viscous, it is lean and acidic.

Gruner Veltliner felt like just the choice for this evening.  This up-and-coming grape from Austria is crisp, lean, bright, and racy.  Great alone and perfect with rich, herbaceous sauces or lighter meats.  I always enjoy pairing Gruner with many of the vegetable-based dishes that I make.  What am I pairing with this glass tonight?  That is to be determined.  So far, it is pairing quite nicely with a cozy chair and a copy of Amy Stewart’s latest book, The Drunken Botanist.

Loimer, Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria 2011

Breaking it down:  Loimer is the producer, Gruner Veltliner (100%) is the grape, Kamptal is the region within Austria, and 2011 is the year the the grapes were picked.  It is fermented in stainless steel tanks.

  • On the eyes  –  brilliant, pale yellow with green reflections.
  • On the nose  –  spiced kaffir lime, white pepper, green apple, and almost a chalky, lime Sweet-Tart candy.
  • On the palate  –  dry, crisp, lively, grapefruit, lime peel, mineral notes, with bright acidity, leading to a lengthy mineral-driven, medium-bodied finish.
  • On the table  –  perfect with trout  or other light fish, chicken, or sauteed vegetables.
  • On the shelf  –  about $18 to $25.
  • On the ears  –  enjoyed and paired with Ladytron’s “Destroy Everything You Touch” from their album, “Witching Hour.”  This snowy afternoon begs for some sharp, experimental, electro-pop like this.  This lean, racy white wine really mimics the structure of this song.

DSC_0175

By no means is this a review of Amy Stewart’s latest book, for I have yet to even pass part one.  I am simply excited to read a book that combines two of my favorite subjects:  cocktails and botany.  “Every good drink starts with a plant.”  This phrase is true on so many levels.  Every good wine.  Every good perfume.  Every good piece of chocolate.  Even every papery page of every good book.  It all begins with plants.  I am anxious to further connect myself and my loves of wine, gardening, cooking, and cocktails to the world of botany.  To my Denver friends, be sure to attend Amy’s lecture at the Denver Botanic Gardens this October.  I will be sure to grab a seat, while they last.  Cheers!

the view out the window

I really hope that this is the last of the snow that falls at Holly and Flora. There is beauty, even in the frustration.